EU competition law is enforced by both public authorities (the European Commission and national authorities) and private parties (competitors, suppliers, customers). Anti-competitive practices cause substantial harm to the EU’s economy, but currently only some Member States provide for victims to sue for damages suffered. Yet, even in these cases, high costs and procedural and legal obstacles may discourage individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from exercising their rights.
The Commission has proposed a new set of measures aimed at harmonising the EU rules on antitrust damages and facilitating claims for compensation. The main elements include easier access to evidence, clarifying time limits, enabling the use of previous decisions by competition authorities as proof of harm and an automatic assumption that a cartel causes harm. The Commission also published a recommendation on collective claims.
Stakeholders expect that the proposed regulation will result in a higher number of civil antitrust cases and an increase in damages awarded. Debate on the proposal is expected to be extensive as some of its provisions would be controversial in a number of Member States.